I took a drive up the coast a while back and while up that way I paid a visit to Lake Matamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge. While I was basically just doing a quick scouting trip on my way back home, I stopped along the causeway to take a couple shots. If you’ve looked a many North Carolina landscape photos you’ve likely seen this view several times. Even though I knew it was one of those locations that has been photographed to the point of saturation, the mirror like water combined with the lovely sky was just too picturesque to pass by. Below are my interpretation of this classic North Carolina scene.
Tag Archives: Lake Mattamuskeet
Depending upon one’s point of view the Crystal Coast was blessed or damned with a winter storm recently. Getting enough snow to cover the ground is really a fairly rare occurrence here. For a few years now I’ve been hoping to get the chance to photograph the wild horses of the Rachel Carson Estuarine Reserve in snow. Now my preference would be to be there as snow was falling but that didn’t happen this time. I was able, however, to get some shots of the mustangs with snow on the ground and ice covering much of the marsh grass.
To reach the reserve I had to put my kayak in the water. I’m sure a few of the fine people of Beaufort were wondering what was up with the crazy man was doing putting a kayak in the water on a day like this. But if you think about it, the kayak was invented by native people living in places like Alaska and Canada. These little boats were basically designed for cold weather use.
I really expected to find the horses in one of the wooded hammock areas, trying to stay out of the cold. I found a few, however, feeding not far from the main watering hole area. During the winter the herd certainly spreads out about the entire reserve. I rarely find a large number of them together this time of the year. Below are a few of my favorite shots from the trip.
To those not familiar with horse behavior it seems to happen in a flash. Teeth gnash, sharp, hard hooves flail, thousands of pounds of muscle, bone and hide explode in a vicious battle over dominance and breeding rights. It’s a scene that’s played out for as long as life has walked the planet. For those that witness one of these epic clashes it is clear why Federal, State and Local laws set boundaries on how close humans can approach wild animals. You really wouldn’t want to be caught between a pair of these battling animals.
Those of us that pay our dues and spend hour after hour observing and photographing these magnificent animals, such dramatic events rarely just happen instantaneously. We’re able to read the pre-fight behavior, the posturing and taunting that takes place before the action begins. It’s that kind of intimate knowledge that allows us to be ready to capture these duels as stills and videos. This is a simple truth that applies to all wildlife photography; knowledge of your subject substantially improves the odds of capturing interesting, compelling images. To improve ones success to failure ratio one needs to do their homework and pay their dues.
So how does one gain knowledge and pay their dues if they don’t live near their intended subject or cannot commit the hours of observation? There are really three choices: Take your chances, go it on your own and hope to get lucky. Hire an experience guide to help get you in the right place at the right time. Sign-up for a photography workshop dealing with the subject you’re interested in photographing. Of course doing a little homework doesn’t hurt either. Read a few books and articles, watch some video, follow some blogs… in short gather some information to give you a head start in your quest to make exciting photos of wild animals in their natural environments.
The following is a sequence of images from a recent wild horse fight I witnessed.
Time the tides right and catch the wild horses out on the tidal flats at the Rachel Carson Estuarine Reserve and you have the perfect opportunity to include some reflections in your composition. This location really is perfect for this technique and the visual rewards are high, or at least are in my opinion. Below are a few examples from a recent trip.
If you like what you see and you have the time this coming weekend, I do have a couple of spots open in my Wild Horses of the Crystal Coast workshop. This is one of the wonderful locations we’ll be visiting during the workshop. I’d love to have you join me on this, the last scheduled workshop of the summer.
In my previous posts about Lake Mattamuskeet NWR I didn’t post any images of waterfowl… and lets be honest here what this location is best known for is waterfowl. So not wanting to disappoint here are a few images of swans and ducks… a compilation of my last two trips to the refuge.
Not so many years ago if someone said they’d seen a bald eagle their sanity would’ve been questioned. However, thanks to the hard work of conservationists around the country viewing an eagle is not such an unusual sight. In 1995 the Bald Eagle was reclassified from “endangered” to “threatened.” On June 28, 2007 this majestic bird was removed from the Endangered and Threatened Species List. Females are up to 25% larger than adult males. Females may have a wingspan up to 96″ while adult males can have wingspans as small as 66″. Adult Bald Eagles, both male and female, have dark brown/black bodies with a white head and tail. In the wild thier average lifespan is around 20 years though at least one captive bird lived for nearly 50 years. While their primary diet is fish they will take advantage of carrion, particularly in the winter. They have been known to “steal” fish from egrets, herons and other birds. Below are pictured an adult and an immature Bald Eagle. While both were photographed near Lake Mattamuskeet I have seen Bald Eagles on three occassions around the Crystal Coast.